Guest Interview with Nick Hemms – Mens Stylist

Aug 24, 2023 | Marketing Guest

“Show Notes”

We talk to Nick about how he got into men’s styling and how photographers can
use a stylist on their shoots.

“Show Transcription”

Sam: Hi, Marcus. How you doing?

Marcus: I’m really good, Sam. Yeah. It’s been a great week.

Marcus: How are you?

Sam:  Excellent. Good, thanks. And we’ve got another guest on today, so this is really interesting. So we have today Nick Hems, who is a Men’s style consultant. So I think I will hand over to Nick to introduce himself and explain what that is.

Hem: Hello. Thanks for having me on. Yes, I’m a men’s personal stylist. So I guess what that involves is I advise and help men with their clothing, with their wardrobes, from making sure that they have the right clothes on a day to day basis to basically up scaling their wardrobe and their appearance. I talk a lot about helping men create better first impressions in order to create better opportunities in their life. And I believe obviously we do that a lot for our appearance and therefore our clothes. So my job just involves helping people to make the best possible first impression by looking their best, in short. And that involves wardrobe editing; it involves personal shopping and many other things around clothing as a whole.

Sam: So, yeah, I’m struck Nick then, actually with the similarity with what I do in some ways because I create websites for people and one of the big things is their very first impression when they go to the website of the business. And you’re doing a similar thing, aren’t you, for that very first impression when somebody meets someone in person?

Hem:  Yeah, I think the two are very similar. It’s all to do with marketing and marketing yourself, isn’t it? And trying to drive interest and essentially drive people to inquire about the services that you can offer them. So it’s a Windows, which is a website, and I offer people the ability to be able to appear their best for meeting.

Sam:  And that first impression, its subconscious, isn’t it? Almost. It’s so fast that it’s just got to be right?

Hem: Yeah. Well, they say you got 7 seconds to create you create a first impression within 7 seconds. So absolutely. An impression is often made a lot of the time before you’ve even spoken a word. So yeah, it’s vitally important.

Marcus: Nick, may I ask you, is this something that you learned yourself or did you study it? And how did you actually come into becoming a stylist? In particular, a men’s stylist.

Hem:  I guess it was something I was learning over a long period of my life without realizing it myself. So to tell the story, it’s kind of me growing up, me being not kind of like a very out there character, confident. I was never particularly shy, but kind of confident to express myself or to stand out in a situation that was never me. And like we all do at times, we’re forced to put on masks to get through life. My mask was clothing, and I used clothing to kind of put myself out there so that conversations came to me instead of me having to start the conversations. And I realized that by wearing different things in different ways and standing out, that I could make someone come to me and start a conversation instead of the other way around. And I learned that when I was a teenager. And then growing up through my working life, I just realized how important appearance was because it allowed you to manipulate certain situations and it bought trust in you as well if you appeared a certain way. So I guess I was always kind of like it was self taught and a lived experience, shall we say. And then when I moved from London to Bath, I quit the job that I had because I realized I was working within insurance, actually, with marketing insurance, I realized it wasn’t really for me. And if I was going to make the break and do something for myself, it had to be then. I was approaching 40 and I searched for probably three or four months. What can I do? And I just realized I thought there’s a bit of a gap in the market. I love sales. I’ve been involved in sales training before, but few people talk about appearance and the power of appearance and how it can impact on you essentially selling. So I saw the gap in the market and thought, men’s personal stylist that could be me. So I then kind of formally trained to-do that and then set up my business.

Marcus: Where did you train at, Nick?

Hem:  The London College of Style.

Sam:  And then it was interesting, you’re saying, about the standing out, because that’s quite a balance, isn’t it? Because you can stand out in the right way by getting it the sort of the look just right, but you can also stand out very much in the wrong way. Can’t you just be sort of totally misjudged it?

Hem: Yeah, completely. I think it’s good to have recognition and understanding about your appearance because some people just don’t have any at all and they view it as, Well, I don’t really care about my appearance. People can take me as I am. I’ll let my personality or the work that I’ve done in the past speak for who I am. Really, it is about appearance because everyone takes on board a first impression. And no matter who you are, no matter how fair you think you are in your thinking,

Marcus: yeah, no, definitely

Hem: someone’s first impression, the way they look, definitely makes a massive impact on you and how you feel about them.

Marcus: Yeah. Okay. So, Nick, tell me, when you’re working with your clients, be they’re a director of a company, a creative, like a photographer, people listening to this show, how do you go about deciding on the kind of look that’s going to suit them. I know if I was doing this, they’d probably I’d try and make them look exactly like me, which obviously is not ideal. So how do you go on about addressing this situation?

Hem :  The way I always start is just with the conversation, I think, kind of like in sales, good salespeople, you’ve got two ears and one mouth. Use them like that. So I listen to people and I listen to people tell me about their lives and their lifestyle, what job do they have, what they do in their job. And it’s about kind of understanding where they sit with all of that and how they feel about themselves, what they’re looking to portray, and then understanding from there what clothing and what style is going to reflect that without them coming too far outside of their comfort zone. But how can we reflect what we want them to in a smart and considered way? And it’s working from there. I send them a questionnaire as well, which will help me delve a bit deeper into their personalities and their lives and obviously help me understand all of their sizing, etc .And then after that, it would be a case of them finding the clothing that’s going to work for them.

Marcus:  You find them the clothing?

Hem: Yes, I do. Most frequently, people will book a personal shopping trip and I’ll say now, in case the question doesn’t come up, most men don’t really like shopping and they have negative impression, a negative feeling towards it. Going to the shops, being faced with changing rooms and not finding what they want and people asking them questions and just get me out of here within half an hour. And that one thing won’t really work for me, so it will stay sitting in my wardrobe and that’s kind of like that, over and over again. So the way I work with people usually is I’ve usually done some kind of color analysis with them, so I can ensure that I find all of the clothes in all of the right colors for them. And it’s all there when they arrive, so they can sit back and they can relax and we can go through the clothing, the styles, how to create outfits and give them a bit of an education as to what’s going to work best for them? And why? And what is layering? What is the difference between the different fabrics? And why does this color work better for you? Why does this work for you? And also with sizing, why does it make such a big difference if the hem on the trouser is 2 CM higher than it is lower? Or why should we taper the trousers? And what does it do and how does that work with your physique? Because all of this stuff, all of these really small proportions make massive differences.

Marcus: That’s fascinating stuff, Nick. Fascinating. I mean, just before we move on to talk about photography and the way you work with photographers? Maybe you could just tell me some places where you get your inspiration and ideas. Magazines or anything like that, or films or how does that work for you?

Hem:  I’d say genuinely in my head, I think basically I’ve got a really strange mind. Maybe it’s my ADHD mind. We all do. That kind of stuff stays with me when I see kind of like outfits and styles and stuff like that. So I can kind of always relate it back to that and know what kind of would work for. And then obviously, you combine that with all the information that they’ve given you to be able to understand. Right, this is the kind of look that I’ll be going for.

Marcus: That’s super interesting. So really what you’re saying there is that you’re constantly working on ideas by looking at people, thinking about what would suit them, and then you’re doing your research by looking at magazines and seeing what is current. And then thirdly, working with the client to find out exactly to make sure exactly what your idea is going to fit them.

Hem:  Yeah, I think the way I look at myself is like current but classic. I’m not a fashion stylist. I’m very much a personal stylist, meaning it’s tailored towards them and their life, as opposed to tailored towards what’s going to make them look fashionable. So, yeah, I guess kind of this my mind is because this researching, finding out ADHD is like my mind inconstantly processing, constantly processing appearance and image. It’s just the way my mind’s set up, and I can’t help it. And that’s what I was know. I was trying to find a job that would work best for me. And I think that’s found I found this, and it fits the way that my mind works.

Sam:  But we need to talk, I think Marcus said, about photographers and photography. So we’ve talked a lot about you working with individuals, but do you also work with photographers? Not with them as people, but not with them in terms of styling them, but working with photographers and then the photographers clients or effectively sort of styling a person in a photo shoot?

Hem:  I do work with photographers, yes. And I guess what I am is just an aide for both people. So I sit in between the photographer and the person having the shoot, and I support them both because I think I know, in fact, that when someone has me alongside them, the photographer then is able to get 100% out of their shoot. But then, more importantly, the person having the photos is able to get the maximum out of them at that time having the photos. Because the way that it typically goes, from what I understand is a photographer’s  expertise is in taking photos and making people look great. But in order to make people look great, they also have to turn up looking the best that they can look right. So people don’t always understand, how can I look my very best today? And they think it’s put on a suitor whatever it may be, but they could be wearing completely the wrong colors. They could be wearing clothes that don’t fit their physique. But then how does the photographer control that? Because most photographers aren’t going to feel comfortable in saying, I think you should wear this, this, and this, because that’s not their area expertise. That’s not what they’ve been brought in to do. So I can then sit and say, right, okay, here is how I would want to appear for this, because this is the job that you do. This is the message that you’re trying to communicate. I know these are the colors that are going to work best for you. This is the cut of clothing, style of clothing that’s going to work best for you. And then all of a sudden, the photographer can get much more out the shoot. The photographer is happier because he’s happier with the work that he’s producing and the client gets the end results that absolutely maximize that time invested into the photographer and money.

Sam:  Do you presumably have to work quite a lot before the shoot? Because obviously once someone’s on the shoot, you can hardly go out and get a load of clothes. So presumably there’s quite a lot of work before the day of the shoot with you and the client.

Hem: Yeah, it’s all PRESHOOT. So depending on how someone employs me, it would be anything from giving them a bit of advice on camera advice, maybe helping them select some clothing that they have indoors already to wear that’s kind of like on a minimum level, to then maybe finding them some new clothing online that they could wear and then having that delivered. And me kind of going through, right, this is what I’d wear; this is how I’d wear it. Or maybe get those trousers all to the bit. Anything through to going through to like a personal shop where we can get everything tailored and sorted out on a day and correct and present for their shoot so they know exactly what they’re wearing. Everything is tailored or altered so it fits them perfectly and they feel really ready and confident to do a shoot. And funnily enough, when I do personal shopping for some people, some people then want to document it after I because they feel the best they’ve ever felt about themselves. So if I can get that from someone that’s just a client of mine and someone that’s preparing themselves for a brand shoot or something, that’s exactly the space that they need to be in. Because again, Marcus, you talk about this and you probably second it is like one of the hardest things to do is get someone to relax. And actually when someone’s relaxed and feels confident, actually their body language exudes confidence. And people buy into that more. They buy into a real smile, someone that’s really relaxed behind the camera. And that’s the position I want to get someone into the day of the shoot.

Marcus:  Totally agree with you, Nick. There Nick. But if I may also just go back a little bit, I just want to really extol the benefits of working with a stylist on a shoot. Obviously, my background is in fashion, and I’ve worked with many, many stylists, and I think a lot of people think that as fashion photographer that you’re involved in the clothes? Well, you’re not, because, as Nick quite rightly says, it’s a specialist. And when I work with my clothes stylists, they’ve got books, a diary full of shops where they can borrow clothes and get clothes from and to get that as a really important resource to bring to a photo shoot that book of addresses where you can get clothes from and hire them from or give them back. So, yeah, I really totally agree with you, Nick. The importance of photographer working with a stylist cannot be stressed enough. But let’s talk also, Nick, let’s move on and talk about on the other side because I know you’ve been photographed quite a lot. I photographed. That’s how we got to know each other. Maybe you could maybe just for our photographers out there, just give a few words of wisdom about how you chose the photographer and what you’re looking for when you work with a photographer for your own photo shoots.

Hem: Yeah, sure. So I’ve learned this through trial and error. What I look for is someone that is an expert in, let’s say, for example, fashion photography, like you. I knew that you had experience of working with people whose end goal was similar to mine. Right. But also I say that because I’ve worked with people that have done family photography or just general wedding photography or a general photographer. And actually, the way that they kind of build the shoot and the way that they manage it is very different to the way that someone like you would, Marcus, because you’re very much like right, I get the brief. Right. I think you look best with this background or helping me even pose, because you know what look good? Editorially, for example.

Marcus: Yes.

Hem:  Whereas someone else is kind of then relying on you to know how to pose. And it’s so much harder because I’m thinking about other things and I want a photographer to almost take control and say, right, yes, do this, act in this way. This background is going to work best because it’s so nice to have a stress taken off of you when you hire the right type of photographer. So now, if it wasn’t like for working with you, Marcus, and I was somewhere else and I need to work with someone, I’d be looking at, right. What’s their background? What do they do? What kind of shoots have they done? Do my research that way before I’d even approach.

Marcus: That’s very interesting, Nick. Very interesting. So just moving forward, where do you see yourself going with your styling, the hopes and dreams? Where are you going to take?

Hem:  So, for me, I guess when you start business, you kind of have this why. And, you know, I when I started my business, it’s very much thinking about what’s my end goal, what’s my why. And I spoke about it briefly earlier when I said my thing is helping people create more opportunity in their lives through understanding the power of appearance. And what I really am passionate about is helping young people to do that and also young people from ethnic minority backgrounds. Because I am and I grew up and I had my lived experience of the things that I went through when I was younger. And I just want people to understand how important it is and how they can open up a whole new world when they just stand, how to show up for something, how to show up for the job that they really want. Because you can change your world. So as a stylist, it would be working more being able to influence that more. So I love what I do, it kind of pays the bills, but I’d want to expand so that I can work with younger people and do work with schools and colleges.

Sam: I’ve seen somewhere as well, program doing that sort of thing. So having a bank of suits, just something as simple as that, so that people going for their first job, who had nothing to sleep with, could go and they get given a suit and they get help to make it look right and stuff. And then they get sort of sent on their interview with much more confidence turning up in the right way, just kind of giving people that boost and that help, which they just didn’t have access to.

Hem:  Yeah. The thing is, when you do that, and I’ve had some experience of doing it and feedback from doing it, it’s one of the biggest impacts you can have on someone’s life. Because just giving them an opportunity at a young age to get in somewhere where they want to be, where they didn’t think they necessarily could do, to then put them in that environment where they can not only thrive, but they can earn money. They can start providing for themselves or for their families or it’s such a big deal because it’s not just helping someone’s confidence, it’s helping them being able to kind of move forward in life. I do a lot with helping people in their confidence and I get a lot of feedback from people six months, a year later saying, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be doing this now, or, you’ve transformed my life. And that sounds like a big thing to say, but literally, people say I’ve transformed their life because all of a sudden, now they are working a lot more confidently and that’s enabled them to maybe go for a job, a different job, find a partner, and it changes people’s lives. But it’s not something that people would necessarily think that could

Sam: No, it can make all the difference. It reminds me of a story back when I was teaching a long time ago. The head teacher visited another school and they took kind of the three kids with them who were always in trouble, always in detention, always looking a mess, and they turned up at the school and they said, These are our three top pupils. When they gave the pupils that confidence, they behaved like the three top pupils from the school all day. And it was just somebody giving them that confidence, putting that trust in them, and they were a different person overnight.

Hem:  Yeah. And you start to start living up because you’re able to tell yourself that story in your head and you live it out.

Sam: That’s been amazing. There’s so much good stuff there. Nick, we’re going to have to start to wrap it up. But as you are a men’s stylist, do you think there are some little generic hints and tips you could give to some of the rest of us that help us in our day to day styling?

Hem: Absolutely. Buy clothes that fit. My number one, but actually, that’s actually probably falsehood. Like, buy clothes that fit. What I should say is, no matter what you do and no matter where you go, you are not necessarily going to find clothes that fit you perfectly off the hangar. But what to do is buy the clothes that you love, but then after that, make sure they fit you well, because fit is the number one, number one kind of like tip with style. You can’t have style if you don’t have clothes that don’t fit you properly. And clothes that fit you properly will make you look 100% better. Because I could make a suit from Primark look better than a suit from Prada just by making it fit you well. And that would be my number one tip. My number two tip is understand and learn about color, because too many wardrobes just are full of navy, blue and gray men’s wardrobes especially. And if you can start to understand the colors that work for you just by trialing them out, just by going into a shop, trying loads of T- shirts on in different colors. If you’re in the UK. H.M  And Zara great for it. One T shirt, loads of different colors. Try them on, see what works, see what looks good in natural light to you, against your skin, against your face, and start wearing a bit more color because that will enable you to stand out. And when you do that, and the clothes know, it’s an easy winner.

Marcus:  Brilliant, Nick. That’s absolutely fantastic advice. You have been a great guest here, nick, thank you so much for spending time with us and really explaining how important a stylist is for a photographer. Just to finish up, is there anywhere that our listeners can find you, any good places where they can seek you out?

Hem:  Absolutely. If you just type in my name, Nick Hems. I think I’m certainly the only one in the UK I’ll come up, so, Nickhemstyle.Co.UK is my website. NickHemstyle is my tag on Instagram and I’m on LinkedIn, so, yeah.

Marcus: amazing. Brilliant. That’s fantastic.

Hem:  Thank you. No, it’s been an absolute pleasure, guys.

Sam:  Thank you so much. So we will put all of those links to Nick out on the show notes that will also go out on the newsletter, along with loads of other bits and pieces, pre show information, chances to be interviewed yourself.  So if you want to sign up to the newsletter, just go to the website, website4photographers.Co.UK, that’s with the number four slash podcast and you can sign up to the newsletter and you could be on the podcast too. So thank you so much, Nick. That was amazing. Great to speak to you. Marcus and I’ll see you Marcus next week.

Marcus:  See you next week, Sam. And see you. Thanks. Bye.